This is a story that all travellers should know before booking the journey to La Paz from Buenos Aires.
We booked our tickets through a site called “ticketsbolivia.com” and we had a transfer in a place called Villazon.
Our tickets said the bus left at 10am from Buenos Aires and the connecting bus was at 6pm in Villazon for the bus to La Paz. This meant a 30hr journey to Villazon and a 12hr journey to La Paz.
We got a Uber to the bus station, so we didn’t miss it. We waited a while until 10:00 passed and then we waited an hour more until something didn’t feel right.
Each of us took turns to go up to a counter, to be told:
“There is no bus at 10:00, there is one bus at 13:30”.
The poor woman behind the counter looked as confused as we were until they checked the passenger list and there we were.
But, there is a problem here. If our bus is 3hrs later than we thought, we would have a problem catching the bus in Villazon. Not very much you can do but we did think about setting up camp in villazon bus station.. 😂
The bus journey to Villiazon was very comfortable, absolutely no complaints about the service or food on board.
We received biscuits and a plastic packet with coffee, a tea bag and a large packet of sugar. Followed by the host serving hot water.
On these long journeys you often receive a meal and we received two!! First, was a meatloaf with mash potato.
The views are spectacular as you move from the Argentinian landscape to the Bolivian mountains.
This route is freezing and we did not prepare for the intense cold. Our host was luckily in the seat across the aisle from Susannah’s and gave her his blanket.
Couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy to look after us!
Views wise, in the north there is farm land and the Andes mountain range. A beautiful sight to wake up to.
Crossing boarders by aeroplane is pretty simple in comparison to land borders and there is some order in the chaos at the Argentinian and Bolivian border.
First, you have to fill out a entrance/exit card to hand over to the bus host and to the immigration officer.
Secondly, you all get off the bus. Queue (or whatever you call a queue) to the border office windows. Get stamped and make your way then back to the bus to find a group of people pushing to get your bags from the hold.
Thirdly, retrieve your luggage and walk past the immigration windows and queue (while everyone tries to get past) to get your luggage scanned. Then move across the bridge and wait for the bus to come along and re load your bags.
(Somehow in this process, someone might have tried to pick Nadines lock but we have no idea how that happened)
If you can stay calm, you’ll find the same order in the chaos we did.
Villazon is a town built for the border and the accompanying cross country business. This really doesn’t expand out of the border and there is nothing much to do.
We also had no currency. The bus station had no ATM’s or placed that took card payments so for a while we thought we might starve.
We brought Emergancy American Dollars just in case of this exact situation and it definitely saved us. We exchanged the last of our Pesos from Argentina and $10 dollars.
We had some bread, cookies and coke for dinner.
The bus from Villiazon to La Paz was the most stressful and uncomfortable journey we have ever had.
Susannah’s seat didn’t recline fully, South American music played the whole way… the whole 12 hours. Trying to sleep with traditional guitar music and bad Spanish singing is not possible.
We received tea and cookies at the beginning then a barely warm meal for dinner.
Stops were extremely badly communicated to everyone on board. We would be told 5minutes, rush round the shop and buy junk foods to keep us going. Meanwhile, the bus drivers would order a sandwich and have some coffee. The whole bus was furious when the 5minutes pasted and a lot of us left hungry for the rest of the journey.
To be honest, this had its pros and cons but be warned if you ever take a non direct bus to La Paz from Buenos Aires.